The Crusader Newspaper Group

New mafia film featuring a woman puts a new spin on the “Don”

“Mafia Mamma” follows an insecure American woman Kristin Balbano (Toni Collette) who unexpectedly inherits her grandfather’s mafia empire in Rome, Italy. Guided by the firm’s trusted consigliere Bianca (Monica Bellucci), she hilariously defies everyone’s expectations, including her own, as the new head of the family business.

This film is hilarious, and Collette is perfect in this role. When she’s aggressively summoned to travel to Italy to bury her late grandfather, she’s unaware to what awaits her. She’s only told she needed to tie up his business affairs, which she assumes is a winery.

But the business isn’t wine, and Kristin finds herself the new head of the mafia. They have made her an offer that she can’t refuse, because her grandfather had helped her mother a great deal, after her father was murdered in Rome—all in the family business.

After her family is ambushed by the opposing mob, Kristin is responsible for breaking bread with the Romano family and breaking up the established territories. This fact isn’t taken too well by other male members of the family, as she’s just an American stranger to them.

She’s smitten with the head of the Romano family, because she has vowed to take on the book and film “Eat, Pray, Love,” but a different take on the last word. Kristin is having a mid-life crisis; prior to leaving the states, she discovers her hubby cheating on her. She has already bumped into a fine Italian at the airport upon her arrival.

Between trying to hold onto her marketing job at home and rubbing up against bad guy after bad guy in a prolonged turf war, Kristin is all but spent by the end of the film.

Surprisingly, she holds up pretty well as a mafia mamma, although she is oblivious to “The Godfather” references that Bianca keeps throwing her way. But after a few surprises before the guns stop blasting, Kristin is fine at home in Italy.

Monica Bellucci, who I first noticed in “The Matrix” franchise, plays well as the consigliere, or advisor (Bianca).

Sophia Nomvete is Jenny, who has had previous screen credits in a children-oriented TV adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in 2018 and an episode of the pirate-themed game show Swashbuckle.

Jenny plays Kristin’s outspoken lawyer and best friend, who is always ready to stand by Kristin’s side, encouraging her to go to Italy when she realizes Kristin is in a professional and personal slump.

“Mafia Mamma” is directed by Catherine Hardwicke and is based on an original story by Amanda Sthers.

Also starring Giulio Corso, Francesco Mastroianni, Alfonso Perugini, Eduardo Scarpetta, Tim Daish and Tommy Rodger.

Coming to a theatre near you on April 14.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader. She is a National Newspaper Publishers Association ‘Entertainment Writing’ award winner, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood: South Side of Chicago.” For info, Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago ( or email: [email protected].

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